Fuji Xerox Australia to fight ACCC allegations of unfair contracts - hires top 'reputation management' firm
Fuji Xerox Australia says it’s disappointed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has filed legal action alleging the printing company's contracts contain unfair contract terms and will fight the case in Federal Court.
In a statement titled Fuji Xerox Response to ACCC Enforcement Action, the company said: “Fuji Xerox Australia Pty Limited notes the ACCC’s announcement that it has commenced legal proceedings alleging certain Fuji Xerox Australia contracts contain unfair contract terms under the Australian Consumer Law.
“Since 2018, Fuji Xerox Australia has cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation and earlier this year it submitted a comprehensive response in an effort to address the ACCC’s concerns.
“In Fuji Xerox Australia’s view, the ACCC did not meaningfully engage with Fuji Xerox Australia about its response.
“In that context, Fuji Xerox Australia is disappointed that the ACCC has decided to commence proceedings, which Fuji Xerox Australia intends to defend.”
The seriousness of how Fuji Xerox views the charges is highlighted by the digital press and copier company's engagement of SenateSHJ - a top-tier reputation and crisis management communications firm who describes its expertise thus: "SenateSHJ helps clients build and protect their reputations, influence people and solve their most challenging problems."
SenateSHJ's client list also includes BP, Novartis, Victorian State Government, Bunnings, Transdev and BUPA. It operates on both sides of the Tasman and often works hand-in-hand with lawyers where potentially damaging litigation cases are concerned. Reputation management is viewed by corporates and part of risk management and research shows that: "the culture of an organisation is a rising risk to reputation, according to senior leaders."
The ACCC's allegations
Corporate watchdog the ACCC last week began legal action in the Federal Court against Fuji Xerox Australia alleging that nine types of the printing company’s standard form small business contracts contain 173 unfair contract terms.
The ACCC alleges there are 31 different terms which are unfair, including automatic renewal terms, excessive exit fees and unilateral prices increases. The terms have been used in contracts since at least October 2018, it said.
“We have received a number of complaints from small businesses alleging that some of the terms in Fuji’s contracts have caused them significant financial harm,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh. “Some of the unilateral variation terms allow Fuji to modify contracts by creating new rights and obligations, including increasing prices, without notifying its customers and without giving them any corresponding right to negotiate or reject.”
Australian Small Business Ombudsman Kate Carnell welcomed the ACCC’s legal move against Fuji Xerox Australia and said her office had also received similar complaints against other print technology suppliers regarding alleged unfair contract terms.